I felt my hand slip to my mic, my body already swaying on the offensive the second Kai sprung up from his seat. It took his "sit down, boy" glance for me to realize I had been relaying static for half a minute.
"Hot mic," one of my agents hummed through my earpiece.
I released my hold on the mic, regaining my composure, this time not letting my eyes stray. I saw Kai and Charles kiss, but this time it seemed different. I had witnessed enough of their entanglements to know something was off. Kai's demeanor remained calm, but his mannerisms gave away something I knew all too well: fear. The quivers were too obvious to ignore and regardless how I personally felt about Kai, he was my protectee. He was my responsibility. Even though I wouldn't act on anything, I could still sense a snake lying low in the weeds...waiting.
Kai remained in his seat as Charles kissed his forehead, playfully, and walked towards me. As he neared, he tilted his head, revealing the cross earring that dangled from his earlobe.
"Sir." I replied, watching as his sky eyes take me in.
He smiled, patting me on the shoulder as he left.
"Charles departing." I relayed over the mic, wiping the scum off my suit jacket.
Kai, after a few moments in silence, got up. He gave the waiter a check, nodding merrily, as he began to walk in my direction.
I remained by the door as Kai walked past me. I took my place behind him, watching him wave to the staff as we headed back toward the elevator.
"Heading to elevator."
I pressed the down button as the doors hissed open. Placing my hand on the interior so the doors didn't close shut, I allowed Kai to walk in. I stood in front of him, pushing the button for the lobby as a hiss separated us from the Hanley House.
We didn't exchange a word as we reached the lobby, but I could feel the tension cloud the air like fog. When I last knew Kai, he was always the type to bottle up his emotions. It would be only a matter of time before he popped. I exhaled lightly, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of hearing me question his mood. His emotional state was no longer my concern.
"Heading to cars."
I lead Kai back to the motorcade as Roy held open the passenger side door of the Bentley for our arrival. Once Kai climbed in, I took the door from Roy: who gave me a wide grin. He was just happy that his shift was almost up. I was the only one on call 24/7. The other agents rotated through three shifts: morning, evenings, and midnights. My day is dependent on my protectee's schedule. So, the second we finish up for breakfast, radio in for my fellow agents to return to their cars, and sit myself in the driver's seat, I usually ask...
"Sir, any plans for the rest of the day?"
Kai didn't respond for a while, but responded, "No."
I relayed his response over the radio. Everyone would be happy to have some downtime. We had been moving non-stop ever since I took over as DL. However, I knew Kai would be a busy man. Managing his father's business while he leads the free world had to be taxing. I almost laughed at myself after thinking that on my first day on the job. Working from home in my PJ's...that's something the filthy rich can get away with, but dogs like me could not. How it must be to be a spoiled brat.
We rounded the bend to Kai's home, hearing the gate chime as it opened for our arrival. The motorcade slowed as I placed the Bentley in front of the walkway leading to the front door of his mansion. Putting the car in park, I got out of the driver's seat as the house agent opened Kai's door. I allowed the other agents to stand back by the cars for a debrief as I walked behind Kai. It was odd, at first, when I came back here. I had so many memories in his mother's home that I was surprised that they didn't suffocate me when I walked out on the property. The off-white antebellum structure with weeping willow canopies had beckoned a haint that haunted me ever since. You see, the Gullah Geechee people believe a haint was an evil spirit that entered a dwelling and tortured its inhabitants. In order to keep them out, blue is usually painted on windows, doors, and ceilings to trick the haint that they're going toward the water: thus, keeping its inhabitants safe. However, Kai's mother loved prestigious whites, reds and golds...not blue. So ever since then, that haint remained and my past continued to chain me to Kai's soul.
As we reached the front door, I heard a peep of a voice: almost like a whisper. Kai had said something while he took out the keys and fumbled with the doorknob, but I didn't hear a damn thing.
"Sir?" I questioned, almost annoyed at the thought that he could be mocking me.
"You and I will go to the Hanor...tomorrow at 8PM. You're dismissed."
The Hanor? I wondered, the door shutting in my face. Where have I heard that name before? I shook my head, mentally unready to figure it out. So much so, that I was already lighting my cigarette as I walked back towards my team.
"As you all heard, Lotus doesn't have any plans for the remainder of the day. Once the afternoon shift arrives, you are all free to go."
The cigarette made its way to my mouth as the round of high-fives ensued. The minty fumes filled me up, as I blew out: making sure to keep the stream of smoke away from my collogues. "Good job today, I'll see you tomorrow."
A round of "thanks boss" circled around as I felt a familiar arm pull me close. "Don't forget about tonight."
I felt Roy's lips on my cheek, as he rustled my hair. I almost felt a growl come out of my stomach when he departed. I exhaled again, the aroma of the cigarette calming my senses. I combed my hair back out of my eyes, hearing the motorcade move away from the main entrance and toward the garage on the side of the plantation. The cigarette butt landed at my feet on the gravel, the sole of my shoe embedding it into the earth as I walked toward our control room designated CP.
I allowed my muscles to relax, rounding the corner of merry agents as they relaxed outside under the veranda which led to the in-law suite where we ran our operations. I sighed, walking past my subordinates and heading toward my room.
It was customary for a DL to stay within arm's reach of their protectee. When I was given a room on property, I felt the bile climb up my throat. It disgusted me. Being near Kai for an extended period of time was enough torture but staying at the very place where it all began, that was more than I could bare. So, I only use this room to gather my thoughts, write up my reports, and prepare briefings. Once I'm done and the midnight shift takes over, I return to my apartment: even if it's for an hour or so, just to get away. That's the one thing Kai and I actually agreed upon.
My fulltime presence here was not necessary.
I felt myself sitting on the queen-sized bed near the rear-facing window as my back fell onto its plush form. I closed my eyes, even if it was for a second. I felt the haint, my teenage self, sit down my chest.
He's not real.
"It's been ten years and you can't even ask him..."
HE'S not real.
"...why he did this to us?!"
HE'S NOT REAL!
I slammed myself upright, sweat covering my brow. A knock filled my room as a concerned voice from one of my agents echoed within. I told him everything was ok. I was fine, but my head was buried in my hands. I felt a tear latch itself onto my eyelashes. The pathetic child I had worked years to hide broke the mold of my solid appearance.
I wasn't ok...not in the slightest.